From Femi Oyelola Kaduna
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) yesterday lamented the exodus of frontline health workers from Nigeria to five developed countries in search of better remuneration and improved working conditions.
President Kaduna State branch of the Association, Dr. Solomon Avidime made the lamentation in his key note address at its 2019 Annual General Meeting .
He warned that, the country already has a deficit of over 260,000 doctors, which was bad enough for over 200 million people.
He explained that five countries Australia, Canada, Germany, UK and USA, and in recent time, Saudi Arabia are attracting high level healthcare professionals to their countries – at the expense of Nigeria populace.
Speaking specifically on the theme of the conference: “Brain drain and the Nigerian health care system: Challenge and way forward”, Dr. Solomon highlighted the main causes of brain drain to include seeking employment or higher paying jobs, political instability, and to seek a better quality of life.
He defined brain drain as departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions.
“Nigeria, the most populous African country, is affected in the crisis of health workforce and with our large population, Nigeria has large share in the disease burden in Africa. Increasing annual rates of population growth as observed in Nigeria, has contributed immensely to health workforce crises.
“NOI survey revealed that, 89 percent of mid-level doctors are considering work opportunities abroad and/or have taken examinations that allow them to migrate. A lot more younger doctors 91 percent are already considering their options abroad.
“The numbers of doctors registering to take national residency training qualifying examinations are dwindling, while applications for foreign recruitment are on the increase.
A deficit of over 260,000 doctors in Nigeria was established looking at the population figure and growth rate, therefore moving forward and for Nigeria to meet up with recommended average of doctor to population ratio 1:600, a minimum of 10,605 new doctors need to be recruited annually.
“With a population estimate in excess of 200 million and only about 40,000 physicians practicing in Nigeria, there are not enough doctors in Nigeria because the doctor to population ration 5,000 as against the WHO recommended 1:600
“A report of 10 years (2009-2018) migration trend of trained Nigerian physician presented recently at the NMA AGM in Ebonyi state is anything but frightening. About 5,861 Nigerian physicians are in the United Kingdom in 2018. As at 2014, a net weekly migration rate of 2 physicians per week was recorded, increasing to a net weekly migration of 17 physicians per week in 2018 representing a whopping 600%,”he decried.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of NMA in Kaduna, Dr. Stephen Akau Kache, commended the efforts by the Kaduna State government towards revitalizing the public health care services in the state quickly added that, there was the need to look into causes of brain drain and do something about it.